Book Review: The Rosie Project

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“Feel! Feel, feel, feel! Feelings were disrupting my sense of well-being.”

This is one of the many lines that made me laugh in this week's read, The Rosie Project.

Oh how I enjoyed this book.

This book doesn't aspire to be Pride & Prejudice; it's more akin to Bridget Jones's Diary.  But like both of those books, the author of this story, Graeme Simsion, likes his characters.  The writing is breezy, fun, and full of insights from the main character, Don, who has Asperger's syndrome.

“Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant. It’s potentially a major advantage. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking, and rational detachment.”

Don is comfortable with his Asperger's, maybe too comfortable.  He meets a beautiful woman, Rosie, who has a set of emotional baggage which he finds challenging to navigate.  This is a perfect set-up for misunderstandings, but even when you see the jokes coming a mile away, they are well delivered.

“'But I’m not good at understanding what other people want.’ ‘Tell me something I don’t know,’ said Rosie for no obvious reason. I quickly searched my mind for an interesting fact. ‘Ahhh…The testicles of drone bees and wasp spiders explode during sex.'”

Part of the fun of the story is hearing the internal voice of what Don's thinking and NOT saying.

“What would you like?" "A skinny decaf latte." This is a ridiculous form of coffee, but I did not point it out.

Or how he navigates learning about the world.

“How can you tell if someone is a vegan? Just wait ten minutes and they’ll tell you.”

And of course, there are the social conventions he doesn't understand even when he's trying...

“A woman at the rear of the room raised her hand. I was focused on the argument now and made a minor social error, which I quickly corrected. 'The fat woman—overweight woman—at the back?'"

Again and again I appreciate the dialogue of the characters and the way Don sees the world.  He is overwhelmed by Rosie's impact on his life:

“I diagnosed brain overload and set up a spreadsheet to analyze the situation.”

But he doesn't know how to communicate what he feels.

“It would be unreasonable to give you credit for being incredibly beautiful.”

Ultimately he figures out what he wants and works hard to get it.  In other words, the book takes the well-worn path of every good chick flick.  So if you're a sucker for Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, or Casablanca, you will enjoy this story.

If you haven't made your way to The Rosie Project, this should be your spring-break read.

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